Chicken Barley Soup for the Soul

Posted by on December 10, 2009 | 11 Comments

Intentions to post up numerous recipes this month were quickly thwarted by that lovely time of year known as the holidays. Planning for parties, shopping for gifts, decorating, and (alas) a bad cold have interrupted work schedules and free time alike. I’m not sick myself (yet, fingers-crossed, vitamins being religiously taken if only for a placebo affect), but my poor husband has had a cold all week.

Even when he isn’t sick, he loves soup. So with the sniffles, sneezing, and coughing on the go, I have done my best to keep him stocked with warm liquids. This particular soup has been on repeat for many months now. When I first made it, my husband asked, “Where did you learn to make such good soup?” I wasn’t sure whether or not to take that as a compliment, but I did take it as a firm nod of approval for this ridiculously easy recipe.

Be Well!

chicken barley soup for the soul

Chicken Barley Soup for the Soul

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Sugar-Free and Wheat-Free (but remember that barley does have gluten!) – but choose your broth wisely (see my notes). For a Veggie Barley soup (vegan), see the comments.

  • 1 to 1-1/2 Teaspoons Grapeseed Oil or other Neutral-Tasting Cooking Oil (depending on how many veggies you use)
  • 1 to 2 Medium Carrots, diced (I usually use 1 medium to large carrot)
  • 1/4 of a Medium Onion, slivered or diced
  • 1/2 Cup Sliced Celery, about 1/4-inch thick (optional – I just use if I have some on hand)
  • 1/4 Cup Pearl Barley
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 3 Cups Good Chicken Broth (I always buy Imagine Organic brand on sale, it is our favorite)
  • 6 to 8 Ounces Chicken, shredded or cubed (I have used leftover Cornish game hens, roasted chicken, and freshly baked boneless skinless chicken breasts)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt, or to taste
  • Ground Pepper, to taste (optional)

Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, and celery (if using), and sauté for a few minutes, or until the onions soften. Add the barley and thyme, and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the broth, chicken, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to low and cover. Allow the soup to simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the barley reaches your desired tenderness. Usually this takes exactly 45 minutes, but a couple of times I had to allow it to simmer for an extra 10 minutes.

Season to taste with fresh ground pepper, if desired (I often omit).

Yields 2 soothing servings

chicken barley soup for the soul


Filed Under: Alisa's Recipes

Comments (11)


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alisa Fleming, Alisa Fleming. Alisa Fleming said: Chicken Barley Soup for the Soul […]

  2. VeggieGirl says:

    Soup is definitely comforting whether one is sick or well – great classic recipe!

    And thank you for the beautiful card! Just received it in the mail about 20 minutes ago 😀

  3. Christina says:

    Oh yum, this looks so good right about now! According to it’s 9, feels like -9! Woo boy, did it turn to winter overnight or what!!!

  4. pam says:

    You know I always put barley in my beef soup. Silly me, I’ve never added it to my chicken soup!

  5. Melinda says:

    The soup looks nice, despite the fact that I don;t eat chicken. Barley is always a nice addition to any soup.

  6. I wish I could have some of that looks sooo soothing 🙂

  7. alisa says:

    Melinda – I forgot to note that this works easily with veggie broth and more veggies too! I particularly like cabbage added with the veggie broth.

  8. Sarena says:

    Oh yum! I could use some veggie barley soup right now! I love shredded cabbage, so would definitely go for that version! I hope the man feels better soon and keep taking those vitamins!

  9. […] the Promised Land)41. Health Home & Happiness (SAD to Real Food, what we’re doing)42. Alisa (Chicken Barley Soup for the Soul)43. Greenearth: Rich […]

  10. Lori says:

    Great recipe. I love recipes that do include flour at all!

  11. Scott says:

    This recipe absolutely rocks. I have made outstanding chicken soup from scratch, and may never do it again. Its simply not worth the trouble anymore.

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